Duchy of Lancaster

Duchy of Lancaster
Creation date 6 March 1351
Monarch Edward III
First holder Henry of Grosmont
Present holder Elizabeth II
Heir apparent Charles, Prince of Wales

The Duchy of Lancaster is, since 1399, the private estate of the British sovereign as Duke of Lancaster.[1][2] The principal purpose of the estate is to provide a source of independent income to the Sovereign.[2][3] The estate consists of a portfolio of lands, properties, and assets held in trust for the Sovereign, and is administered separately from the Crown Estate.[3] The duchy consists of 18,433 ha (45,550 acres) of land holdings (including rural estates and farmland), urban developments, historic buildings, and some commercial properties across England and Wales particularly in Cheshire, Staffordshire, Derbyshire, Lincolnshire, Yorkshire, Lancashire and the Savoy Estate in London.[4] The Duchy of Lancaster is one of two royal duchies, the other being the Duchy of Cornwall, which provides income to the Prince of Wales.

In the financial year ending 31 March 2015, the estate was valued at circa £472 million.[5] The net income of the Duchy is paid to the reigning sovereign as Duke of Lancaster,[2] which represents approximately £16 million in annual revenues being presented to the Sovereign every year.[6] As the Duchy is an inalienable asset of the Crown held in trust for future generations of Sovereigns, the sovereign is not entitled to the portfolio's capital or capital profits.[2][5] The Duchy of Lancaster is not subject to tax,[6] although the sovereign has voluntarily paid both income and capital gains tax since 1993.[7] As such, the income received by the Privy Purse, of which income from the Duchy forms a significant part, is taxed once official expenditures have been deducted.[6]

The Duchy is administered on behalf of the Sovereign by the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, a government minister appointed by the sovereign on the advice of the Prime Minister, and the Clerk of the Council.[8] Day-to-day management of the estate's properties and investments are delegated to officers of the Duchy Council,[2][6] while the Chancellor is answerable to Parliament for the effective running of the estate.[9][10][11][12]

Lancashire County Palatine shown within England

The Duchy exerts some powers and ceremonial duties of the Crown in the historic county of Lancashire,[13] which includes parts of modern Greater Manchester and Merseyside, as well as the Furness area of Cumbria. Since the Local Government Act 1972, The Queen in Right of the Duchy appoints the High Sheriffs and Lords Lieutenant in Greater Manchester, Merseyside, and Lancashire.[14]


The Duchy of Lancaster was created for a younger son of King Edward III, John of Gaunt, who acquired its constituent lands through marriage to the Lancaster heiress Blanche. As the Lancaster inheritance it dates to 1265, when Henry III granted his younger son, Edmund, lands forfeited by Simon de Montfort, Earl of Leicester. In 1266, the estates of Robert de Ferrers, 6th Earl of Derby,[15] another protagonist in the Second Barons' War, were added. In 1267 the estate was granted as the County, Honour and Castle of Lancaster. In 1284 Edmund was given the Manor of Savoy by his mother, Eleanor of Provence, the niece of the original grantee, Peter II, Count of Savoy. Edward III raised Lancashire into a county palatine in 1351, and the holder, Henry of Grosmont, Edmund's grandson, was created Duke of Lancaster. After his death a charter of 1362 conferred the dukedom on his son-in-law John of Gaunt, Earl of Lancaster, and the heirs male of his body lawfully begotten for ever.

The first act of Henry IV was to declare the Lancastrian inheritance be held separately from the other possessions of the Crown, and should descend to male heirs. This separation of identities was confirmed in 1461 by Edward IV when he incorporated the inheritance and the palatinate responsibilities under the title of the Duchy of Lancaster, and stipulated that it be held separate from other inheritances by him and his heirs. The Duchy thereafter passed to the reigning monarch and in 1760 its separate identity preserved it from being surrendered with the Crown Estates in exchange for the civil list. It is primarily a landed inheritance belonging to the reigning sovereign.

In 2011, the Duchy established a re-balancing asset plan and sold most of the Winmarleigh estates farms and donated a plot of land to the Winmarleigh Village Hall committee by June 2012.[16][17]


The duchy is the personal property of the monarch and has been since 1399, when the Dukedom of Lancaster, held by Henry of Bolingbroke (Henry IV), merged with the crown on his appropriation of the throne (after the dispossession from Richard II).

The chief officer is the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, a position sometimes held by a cabinet minister but always a ministerial post. For at least the last two centuries the estate has been run by a deputy; its chancellor has rarely had any significant duties pertaining to its management but is available as a minister without portfolio.

The monarch derives the privy purse from the revenues of the Duchy. The surplus for the year ended 31 March 2015 was £16 million and the Duchy was valued at just over £472 million.[18] Its land holdings are not to be confused with the Crown Estate, whose revenues have been handed to the Treasury since the 18th century in exchange for the receipt of a yearly civil list payment.

The Duchy Council's primary officers carrying out the estate's day-to-day duties are the Clerk of the Council (the Chief Executive Officer), the Chairman of the Council, and the Chief Finance Officer.[6] The chancellor is responsible for the appointment of the steward and the barmaster of the barmote courts on behalf of the Queen in right of Her Duchy.[19]

Royal prerogative

"These cases seem clearly to establish the doctrine that all the prerogatives and privileges of the King belong to him with reference to the lands parcel of the Duchy of Lancaster in no less a degree than they do with lands which belong to him immediately in right of his Crown."[20]

Both the Duchy of Lancaster and Duchy of Cornwall have special legal rights not available to other estates held by peers or counties palatine, for example, bona vacantia operates to the advantage of the Duke rather than the Crown throughout the Duchy. Proceeds from bona vacantia in the Duchy are divided between two registered charities.[21][22] Bona vacantia arises, in origin, by virtue of the Royal Prerogative and in some respects remains the position although the right to bona vacantia of the two major categories is now based on statute: Administration of Estates Act 1925[23] and the Companies Act 2006.[24]

There are separate attorneys general for the estates. Generally the exemptions tend to follow the same line: any rights pertaining to the Crown in most areas of the country instead pertain to the Duke in the Duchy. Generally, any Act of Parliament relating to rights of this kind will specifically set out special exemptions for the two Duchies and specify the extent to which they apply. They are subject to strict regulation, especially with respect to auditing and alienation of land.


The holdings of the Duchy are divided into six units called surveys, five rural and one urban. The rural surveys make up most of the assets and area but the urban survey generates a greater income. The holdings were accrued over time through marriage, inheritance, gift and confiscation, and in modern times by purchase and sale.[4]

See also


  1. "About the Duchy". Duchy of Lancaster. 2015. Retrieved 9 January 2016.
  2. 1 2 3 4 5 "FAQ - Duchy of Lancaster". Duchy of Lancaster. Retrieved 9 January 2016.
  3. 1 2 "Privy Purse and Duchy of Lancaster". Royal Household. Retrieved 2011-09-30.
  4. 1 2 "Properties and Estates". Duchy of Lancaster. 3 December 2013. Retrieved 2013-03-12.
  5. 1 2 "Annual Report 2013" (PDF). Duchy of Lancaster. 31 March 2013.
  6. 1 2 3 4 5 "Duchy of Lancaster Management and Finance". Duchy of Lancaster. 2015. Retrieved 9 January 2016.
  7. "Taxation". Royal Household. Retrieved 2011-09-30.
  8. "The Government, Prime Minister and Cabinet". UK Government. Retrieved 14 August 2011.
  9. Vernon Bogdanor (November 1995). The Monarchy and the Constitution. Oxford: Clarendon Press. p. 188. ISBN 0-19-827769-5. The statement in the book is sourced to "Kenneth Clarke, Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster in Hansard, Standing Committee G, col 11, 17 Nov 1987"
  10. "Departmental Land-Duchy of Lancaster". They Work For You. 21 July 2008. Retrieved 2011-09-30.
  11. "Hansard Written Answers and Statements". TheyWorkForYou. 14 September 2011. Retrieved 2011-09-30.
  12. "Duchy Council". TheyWorkForYou. 6 December 2006. Retrieved 2011-09-30.
  13. http://www.duchyoflancaster.co.uk/about-the-duchy/history/county-palatine/
  14. "Palatine High Sheriffs". Duchy of Lancaster. 20 May 2011. Retrieved 2011-09-30.
  15. Maddicott, J. R. (2004). "Ferrers, Robert de, sixth earl of Derby (c. 1239–1279)". In H. G. C. Matthew, Brian Harrison. Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-861411-1.
  16. "The Duchy nears completion of Winmarleigh sales". Duchy of Lancaster. 21 June 2012. Retrieved 31 August 2014.
  17. 1 2 "Duchy land farm sell-off". Garstang Courier. 31 March 2011. Retrieved 31 August 2014.
  18. "Accounts, Annual Reports and Investments". The Duchy of Lancaster. 18 July 2011. Retrieved 2011-09-30.
  19. "Barmote Courts". Duchy of Lancaster. 26 January 2011. Retrieved 30 September 2011. (archived copy of page)
  20. "The Charters of the Duchy of Lancaster". Chancellor of the Duchy. Retrieved 2011-09-30.
  21. "Benevolent Fund Trustees". Duchy of Lancaster. 25 January 2011. Retrieved 2011-09-30.
  22. "Terraced house 'belongs to Queen'". BBC News. 3 August 2006. Retrieved 3 January 2010. — provides an example of bona vacantia operating in favour of the Duchy in Gorton in Manchester.
  23. "In default of any person taking an absolute interest under the foregoing provisions, the residuary estate of the intestate shall belong to the Crown or to the Duchy of Lancaster or to the Duke of Cornwall for the time being, as the case may be, as bona vacantia, and in lieu of any right to escheat." Administration of Estates Act 1925 Section 46
  24. Section 1016 of the Companies Act 2006 defines the Crown Representative in relation to property vested in the Duchy of Lancaster, as being the Solicitor to that Duchy
  25. "Holdings: Foreshores". Duchy of Lancaster. Retrieved 31 August 2014.
  26. Minerals
  27. 1 2 Rayner, Gordon (17 July 2012). "Queen's private Duchy of Lancaster estate rises in value above £400m for first time, accounts show". The Telegraph. Retrieved 31 August 2014.
  28. Unger, Paul (5 June 2009). "Duchy courage". Property Week. Archived from the original on 4 August 2014. Retrieved 31 August 2014.
  29. The Cheshire Survey.
  30. The Southern Survey
  31. The Staffordshire Survey.
  32. The Yorkshire Survey.
  33. Urban Survey

External links

This article is issued from Wikipedia - version of the 8/29/2016. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.